Monday, August 11, 2008

Ill Conceived Plans

A year into publishing my photoblog, a friend and authentic artist encouraged me to start a project. Her advice was to choose a subject or a specific idea, develop the idea and start working. The thought was to continually work on the project and eventually a body of work would emerge. This would be separate and in addition to photos taken for the website.

I thought it was an intriguing idea and I envisioned myself as a "real" artist. I put a lot of thought into the idea and came up with a plan, gathered my equipment, set up my tripod, some lighting and a backdrop. I'd never taken a portrait but that seemed as good an idea as any.

I decided to photograph women au naturel. No, not nude, but facial portraits of women without their makeup, with their hair pulled back. The idea was to capture true and honest portraits. Think of some of the stunning photos of artist Georgia O'Keefe or other dramatic personalities who are so secure with themselves that they are confident to let others see their bare face.

How dumb was it to believe that my friends would be on board for something like that? The first person I pitched it to was my neighbor Donna. Her reaction was so dramatic that I instantly felt dumb as a rock. What woman is willing to bare all for the camera? Not Donna, that's for sure.

I decided that I'd take some photos using myself as the model. The results would certainly convince others to sit for me.

What can I say? It only took me about 20 minutes to dismantle the makeshift studio. Whoa! It became apparent to me that we need to allow ourselves a little dignity.

In reviewing my three year of photo archives a body of work actually did emerge. Unbeknownst to me I'd been working it all along. It's called "Wallpaper Archaeology". We've already examined the cowboy wallpaper in my daughter's new apartment.


It joins the photos of decaying wallpaper in abandoned farmhouses in this area.


They've seen their better day.


They're diseased and decaying.


And peeling.


And they've fallen down.


And in the end old farmhouses don't mind being photographed in something other than their best light. I think they're beautiful old dames, as beautiful as women can be without their makeup.

So, how about it? Would you let me photograph you without your makeup?


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Nope, don't ask. You can NOT take my photo without my make-up on. I can barely have my photo taken with it.

So why do I love all those photographs of decaying walls and torn wallpaper?

Suzanne said...

Vee, I just believe there is beauty in decay. I BETTER believe that because I'm going down fast and I need to make peace with that fact.

Mamahut said...

I don't know if it's because I have gotten a little color in my face or if I am lazy...but I have been without make-up of 3 weeks now. I love it.

Indiana Angel said...

Beautiful pictures!!! Thank you for sharing them. I love to wonder what old, abandonded farm houses look like inside. It's neat to get a little peek into them.

Louise said...

Would it be a close-up? If yes, could I wear powder to remove the shine? If yes, I would let you.

LOVE the old wallpaper! Those pictures speak to a different day and way of life.

belladella said...

Love the pictures of the old wallpaper. It's amazing how many layers some of those old walls have. It's like a time capsule of sorts. Love the old patterns.

Marilyn Parks said...

I love old wallpaper... and new wallpaper too I guess.
I think your either a wallpaper person or your not.
Not a lot of grey area on that one
I am without doubt a wallpaper person.

I was thinking just this morning that I will have to wear makeup like all the other ladies if I go back to work.

I haven't worn makeup in three years.

I wonder if I should cover my grey............

Jill said...

Well I've been relatively au naturel for the past few weeks - makeup bag was of course in my suitcase. I must admit that I feel somewhat naked w/o my "face" - even though I only wear a light dusting of powder to reduce the shine and a bit of mascara.

I think I'll opt for a photo with my makeup... and a little hair gel too!

Anonymous said...

over the last 10 years i find i take less time on the hair and make up thing. i think i look better with less fuss. i also live 9 miles from any one. have for 10 years. i think the peace i have found on the "ranch" as something to do with this very heavy so yes you may take a photo. love your blog and photos. you touch my heart and make me laugh.

carolyn at cranberry crossings: said...

As a service to the public, I will have to graciously decline! LOL!

But do I see the beauty in the tumble-down wallpapers you have photographed.

Latigo Liz said...

I have some old walls (my house is 100+) you can take some pictures of. And I don't wear any makeup, ever, so feel free to snap a photo of me while you are at it.

BittersweetPunkin said...

I hardly ever wear makeup anymore...unless DH and I are going shopping or I have a meeting or appt. 15 years ago? way.

Karen said...

Love those photos. There is beauty in that decay.

I have no problem being photographen 'au naturel'.

When I first started seeing fine lines and a few wrinkles. I wasn't too happy. In fact I went into panic mode.

However, these days I'm at peace with them and with my spider veins and all the rest of the stuff that comes with growing older. Thy are the badges of my life, ones that I've decided to wera proudly..

Though, having said all that, I'm not ready to give up dying my hair, just yet. I'm having too much fun experimenting with colour!!! :-) I'm currently a shade known as 'Crushed Garnet'...

Lori said...

Sure - a person is what they are.

GemStateMom said...

ya gotta be kidding me!

Maybe from a distance, but up close and personal? way.

Love the pics of wallpaper - makes my paper-lovin' heart sad to see the neglect.

stefanie said...

Yep, go ahead. I hardly wear any makeup anyway. I loved the Jamie Lee Curtis photo shoot that showed the real her.

I would love to do a photo series of elderly women. I think their faces are beautiful.

I enjoy your blog. Thanks for making me think, and for taking me back into corn fields now and then.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and would like to exchange links with you!! Stop by the olde primitive house!!
Many Blessings to You....
Lori Hull

StitchinByTheLake said...

While I wouldn't want to be photographed without makeup for pictures to hand out to family and friends your proposal is different. It's "art" and so, sure, I'd let you. I don't wear much makeup anyway, no base at all, but I am rarely seen without my eye makeup and certainly not willingly. But I also don't freak out if I don't have it on. Blessings, marlene

Cindy La Ferle said...

What a thought-provoking post, Suzanne! I would be willing to be photographed without my beloved mascara and mineral foundation, but I suspect I'd end up looking like the weary wallpaper in your photographs. And speaking of those photographs, I loved them! As you (and your art) point out, we love worn old things because they remind us of the aging process we're all going through, in one way or another. Ever read Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul? He mentions how much he appreciates the sight of old, rusty farm equipment left in the fields, and the poignant beauty of decay. He'd love your wallpaper photos!

KatKit13 said...

Nope, not of my nekkid face. Don't wanna break the camera ya know... snort.

and I don't have any wallpaper.

Simple Answer said...

Great pix! And yes you can photo me with no make-up. If there is one thing I've learned - aging is perfectly normal and it only gets worse.

Kate Johnson said...

I rarely look "good" in a photo, no matter what. And I haven't worn makeup in so many years that what still remains is surely now bacteria soup at the back of a drawer in the bathroom. Spending time putting anything but moisturizing lotion on my face is the last thing I think of anymore, even when getting ready to go out for special occasions. You certainly could take my picture au naturel.

Anonymous said...

Of course you photograph me without make up. I confess to wearing it only rarely.

But you are right, the wallpaper pictures are riveting. I used to work at Gliddon Drugs in Elburn and the office has the best nursery wallpaper. It was circus themed and had carousels.

Mary also at 9 miles from nowhere


It occured to me that taking off makeup is much like peeling wallpaper. It reveals the truth.

Heather said...

You're killing me right now. I want to walk through the rooms and take big chunks of the wallpaper to put in frames and hang as art. Just look at those delicious layers of stories. I can picture some farmers wife so carefully choosing the paper and hanging it. Layer after layer...year after year. Oh, if that wallpaper could talk.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Somehow, I think you've captured just a hint of the old houses former glory. (And, the no make-up thing. . .not on your life!!)

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Somehow, I think you've captured just a hint of the old houses former glory. (And, the no make-up thing. . .not on your life!!)

lifeinredshoes said...

Hell yes! I wear make-up every day, I could be the poster child for the cosmetics industry. One look at me sans make-up and no one would argue with animal testing. I look like I've aged 10 years in the last 2, and you know what? I have. A womans bare face tells her story, the real story. BRING IT ON!

pam said...

I just found your blog from someone, through somebody else, through some, well you get the picture... And of course you can photograph me au naturale! I've no hair from chemo but still think I'm beautiful even w/o makeup ;)
And you're pics of the wallpaper remind me of the house we bought from in-laws. Forty + years of paper, tried to scrape it off = ahhh NO. Ended up drywalling over it all.
I'm loving your blog. I'm moving back to a small town in MI soon much like yours. Can't wait!